TEXAS FAITH 79: Is the Sikh shooting “Christian terrorism?”

Dallas Morning News,

Dallas Morning News,

Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

We have had another shooting, this time involving a gunman who reportedly had links to a white supremacist group. Military veteran Wade Michael Page turned his fire on a Sikh temple near Milwaukee on Sunday, killing six people and wounding three others as they got ready for services.

As expected, numerous faith groups have expressed their sympathies to the Sikh community. And well they should.

But what are we to make of moments like this? Is this religious extremism run amok? If so, what do we do?

The Wall Street Journal quotes the leader of the suburb’s Salvation Army saying that in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, “all faiths, all denominations work together.”

Bu Mark Juergensmeyer, author of “Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence” called this an act of “Christian terrorism.” The University of California at Santa Barbara professor, who once was president of the American Academy of Religion, wrote in Religious Dispatches http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/guest_bloggers/6263/christian_terrorism_comes_to_milwaukee/:

“ First off, this would have to be classified as a case of Christian terrorism — if you’re going to talk about Muslim terror and so on. Wade Michael Page being a veteran fits into a pattern of war mentality of a crusader. This can be especially pronounced among veterans, who have been trained to kill, but also occurs with those who see themselves as soldiers, like the Norwegian Anders Breivik who claimed he was saving northern Europe from the scourge of multiculturalism allowing for domination by non-whites.”

Is this Christian terrorism? Something else? If so, what do we do?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

The cause of this ghastly situation is ignorance and ignorance alone.  Due to ignorance one thinks of himself as this temporary body.  Thus one carries multiple temporary identities such as, white, black, Russian, Chinese, male, female, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, heterosexual, homosexual, and so on. However, such identities have nothing to do with the real self.  For the real self, the soul, is eternal and the body is always changing.  In this life our body changes from boyhood, to youth, to old age.  Similarly there is another change of body at death.  But those who are uninformed identify with the temporary body.

Just as it is not possible to reach a destination without first knowing where one is, it is also not possible to make proper decisions when one is ignorant of their actual position.  Therefore, this is definitely not stemming from Christianity, for Christ taught that one should love God and thy neighbor.  This is a result of spiritual ignorance which is ever present throughout society.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.